All Quiet On Boro Boss Job Front… It Takes Time To Get It Right

IT’S QUIET out there… too quiet. But there is plenty going on. Beyond the white noise of the betting markets, some supporters’ obsession with Apostelic succession and a firm belief in former favourites as serious candidates just because they have worn the shirt, Steve Gibson is taking his time over making what is probably his most important appointment since Bryan Robson.
Here’s some musings on the recruitment process.

AS THE Blackburn exocet sizzled past Jason Steele a host of Teessiders mentally struck a thick and decisive line through another name on the list.
Steve Gibson may not be so impatient but for many, Mark Venus has already fallen at the second interview stage.
When you are a caretaker living in the shadow of the departed’s perceived flaws, you have to keep winning. Harsh but true. There is no honeymoon period. For fans, continuity is not a strength if the intrinsic link is with tainted tactics that repeatedly fall short.
The cavalier demolition of Doncaster was trumped by the laboured ‘fine margins’ defeat at Ewood Park straight off the Tony Mowbray template.
Still, never mind, three more names have been thrown into the dug-out guessing game over the last few days that illustrate some of the problems in drawing up the list.
First Fabrizio Ravanelli catapulted himself into the upper reaches of the bookies’ betting by getting sacked for his abject failure in France. At the time of writing he had barged past Venus and Aitor Karanka to be the latest in a long line of red hot favourites. You can get 40s on early front-runner Tony Pulis now you know.
The fiery White Feather – he of fixtures and fittings fame – was axed from his first club Ajaccio after just one win in 12 games left the Corsican minnows second bottom. He was said to be tactically naive and overly abrasive to the players.
But hey, he used to play for Middlesbrough: Get him in Gibbo!
The emotional link with a now dimming Golden Age still has considerable currency that for some outweighs all that boring rational recruitment stuff like previous record, tactical approach or emotional stability.
Rav had already been touted as an “ideal” boss by some, presumably for his admirable team ethic and ability to motivate with a supportive gesture or word or two. Some managerial match-makers even suggested he could team up with Gianluca Festa. After all, they are both Italian so they are bound to be close personal friends. There is bound to be a philosophical synergy.
It never ceases to amaze how some fans believe that having once worn the shirt confers some mystical managerial qualities. This football Apostolic succession means Ravanelli, Graeme Souness, out of the game for a decade, and Brian Deane, in his first term of mid-table management in Norway, feature higher in the bookies reckoning than Dougie Freedman, Karl Robinson and Phil Parkinson, all of whom could put in far more fitting CVs.
It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest to find someone, somewhere in Teesside ready to stick a very daft tenner on a Phil Stamp and Bernie Slaven dream team. With Juninho as director of football. Dean Windass is still available.
Of course, Mogga was a club icon and was widely seen as the ‘unity’ candidate when he arrived to sift through the debris of Gordon Strachan’s ill-fated Great Jockification.
But that was very much the exception rather than the rule. Mogga wasn’t given the job as a sentimental sop for his role as lunar leader of the Rioch revival. He was given it because of the impressively solid job he had done at West Brom, building an attacking team that won promotion on a budget, welding cut-price unknowns into a coherent unit.
The second name that was thrown in, rather optimistically, was that of Malky Mackay.
The Scot did a fantastic job at Watford forging the strugglers into a formidible side for peanuts then went to habitual bottle-merchants Cardiff and made them mentally tougher and far better organised and won promotion to the promised Land of the Premier League.
But now cracks are appearing in troubled City with briefing wars, behind the scenes rancour after his right-hand man was sacked and open political point-scoring between the boss and controversial owner Vincent Tan.
Naturally Boro fans now covet a managerial rising star that they have seen shoot past them in the past two years. But he is a hot property now. If he leaves Cardiff it will be as a success forced out by circumstance – and he will be wanted by other Premier League sides.
He will be pencilled in not for Boro but for Fulham, Norwich or… whisper it quietly… Newcastle when the current incumbents leave.
Similarly, there was a ripple in cyberspace over Chris Hughton. Hurray! He’s been battered seven nowt… get him in. Again, Hughton has done well at both Newcastle and Norwich but will see himself very much as being on the Premier League merry-go-round rather than the second shelf. Anyone else who gets sacked in the next week or so – yes, Martin Jol, I’m looking at you – can expect to race up to odds-on for the Boro job within 24 hours too.
The third name that popped up in the betosphere was that of former coach Steve Agnew.
It appears to have been smuggled into the reckoning on the back of some twitter-tattle and the message boards. Then when a few easily influenced people put a few bob on ‘because you never know’ the odds started to tumble and a virtual bandwagonof In The Know punters trundles down a betting cul de sac.
Aggers is a coach alongside Steve Bruce at Hull and who knows, he may fancy leaving Premier League security to have a crack in a hot-seat… but it would be a risk taking someone proven on the training ground but whose managerial record consists of back-to-back 1-0 defeats at Norwich and Forest as caretaker after Strachan left. Especially if it is just because he knows the way to Hurworth.
Good coaches are gold dust and arguably Boro could do with a few more specialists. At the back for instance. But first and foremost they also need a manager.
Steve GIbson says he is taking his time over the recruitment process because he wants to make the right appointment not a quick one. That is sensible and rational and would never be questioned in any other industry but football.
But time is pressing. And an international break is looming. And supporters are getting fidgety.Quick! Someone do something. Anything. The tension is killing us.
It is a fortnight now since Mogga was axed and Gibson will be getting to the point now where he has fine-tuned his selection criteria, drawn up his wish-list and made a few discreet inquiries through third parties. He may even have had preliminary talks with one or two.
And round about now he will be getting ready to push ahead with more detailed talks with his preferred candidates who have got through the first few filters.
So who exactly are Boro looking for? What is the remit?
We know what Gibson doesn’t want: he doesn’t want any of the tired usual suspects. He doesn’t want a Megson or Boothroyd or Curbishley. Or a Strachan. He wants hunger and ambition and drive.
And he doesn’t want a long ball merchant. A route one, robust style doesn’t fit the skills set of the squad we have and would alienate a section of the wavering crowd before the initials were printed up on the tracksuit and baseball cap.
And, unless they come from a top club and with glowing references and are a near perfect fit with the Boro’s fledgling new model, he doesn’t really want a rookie.
Bryan Robson was a success – but on a budget that blew rivals out of the water. Bruce Rioch was appointed out of financial necessity and Gareth Southgate was a gamble that ultimately failed. And Steve McClaren was a success – but how many coaches can boast helping engineer a treble and come with a letter of introduction from Fergie? It is not the norm.
And Boro are edging towards a new structure in which recruitment will not be the exclusive domain of the boss. It has been a year and more in the making. As discussed in the summer the pieces are starting to fall into place. And while in the last close season it didn’t quite pay off. things continue to develop.
Boro are slowly putting in place an extensive scouting network in Europe that runs in tandem with rapidly strengthening new links to some of the biggest clubs on the continent like Atletico Madrid and Juventus
Delegations from both have been at the Riverside this year. And this week a trio of Boro starlets – Luke Williams, Bryn Morris and Bradley Fewster are due to jet out to Madrid for an extended stay with Atletico as the link-up develops. The Under 21 and Under 18 teams will fly out next week to join them for training and to play against their Spanish counterparts. It is the first stage of what could be a productive exchange scheme.
And not just with one club. Boro are putting in place a wide network of similar links that will hopefully bear fruit in terms of securing first options on young talent.
They are cultivating links with key individuals too: Ex-Real Madrid Aitor Karanaka caused a flurry of excitement in the betting markets last week when his links to Boro popped into the public eye – he joins up some of the dots between Jorge Mendes, Peter Kenyon and point teasingly to Jose Mourinho too – but the club have nurtured strong ties with Marco Branca, sporting director at Inter Milan, and Croatian FA big wig Alen Boksic too.
Boro aim to tap into the comprehensive contacts and knowledge of all these people and clubs to bolster their scouting network and profile in the transfer market.
And with former Manchester United and Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon helping with introductions a potentially productive set-up is evolving.
In Spain and Italy there are no reserve leagues and big teams are keen to get their players competitive action – and put them in the shop window. A years loan here. A real deal with a sell on clause there. If they excel at Boro for a season and the team benefit from their talent then are sold on then everyone’s a winner. If they don’t, well, Boro have not lost out. There is no three year contract on £10k a week to weigh the club down.
Of course the manager will still have an input into signings. He will still nominate his own targets, still be able to argue for domestic targets on a case by case basis, still outline which areas of the team need strengthening, have a say in whether to follow up scouting reports suggested by the European network,and be key in deciding between those on offer. But he won’t have the exclusive and absolute control of budget and recruitment that is seen as the norm within English football (but would be considered unusual everywhere else).
Any new manager would have to be willing to work within that framework… and plenty wouldn’t. A lot of the “name” manager mentioned wouldn’t. They would want to make their own signings, names that are tried and trusted from past clubs. That’s natural. That is the British way. But it implies yet another upheaval in personnel and tactics.
Boro are trying to find a new way that would put in place a stable, cost-effective on-going scouting and recruitment system that does not change with every manager, that will feed into the squad steadily over the years to come rather than sporadic revolutions.
It is a sensible and sustainable strategy for a club of Boro’s size but could well narrow the field when it comes to picking the next boss.
Not many top flight managers from the established conservative English dug-out culture would be comfortable with it. Many would flatly refuse. Getting the right people in is crucial to making such a system work. It will take an open-minded and confident boss who sees the benefits and is eager to take on the challenge at a club looking for a different route. An ambitious boss – probably at the early stage of his career – who wants to be part of the project.
The chairman is said to have had 100 applications from a host of would-be supremos. Plus the mandatory begging letter from Sven. And why not? It is a good gig: excellent facilities, healthy finances and a recent history and still pressing desire for of success. For all the habitual moaning within the Teesside bubble, Boro is a cracking job for someone.
Of course, 40 of those applications will have been from bedroom bosses who have taken Boro to the Champions League final on Football Manager. But haven’t we all? Of the rest another 50 won’t tick the right boxes – too young, too old, no CV, no drive, wrong tactics, wrong persona –
and a few more will price themselves out of the running.
So it is a relatively small group of bosses who will be a good fit. The ones who make it to the short-list will all be great candidates that tick a lot of boxes and will probably already have indicated an interest. Now Steve Gibson has to weigh up from that group of applicants who is the best fit in what is far from a straightforward job interview. That may explain the delay.
It is a crucial moment in the club’s development. If Boro miss this opportunity and fail to make the new model work now it could be a set-back that costs the club precious time just when the financial landscape of the game is changing radically. Get it wrong and it could condemn Boro to treading water in mid-table for an uncomfortable and frustrating future.
It is an appointment that determines how successfully the current strategy unfolds.
We need to get the right one.
****THIS is the 12 inch Boss Jobz ft A-Postelic dubstep remix of this week’s Big Picture column


31 thoughts on “All Quiet On Boro Boss Job Front… It Takes Time To Get It Right

  1. AV: Name and shame the peson who thought Rav would be ideal!
    As for Sven, what are the secetaries like at Boro? I think he requires at least two lookers to chose from in his contracts.

  2. “It never ceases to amaze how some fans believe that having once worn the shirt confers some mystical managerial qualities”
    Sorry, who are these fans that you speak of? Are you just purely basing that judgement on betting activity, a context in which you go on to belittle in meaning?
    I don’t know one Boro fan who would genuinely want Ravanelli or Brian Deane as manager, I do know a few who are daft enough to stick a couple of would on it as a bet though, it’s called having a bit of a laugh.

  3. Do you think it would be worth while giving Herr Magath a ring, and telling him we’ve changed our minds, he can have the job?
    **AV writes: Isn’t he Felix von Warnock? What’s Uwe doing these days? Or Ziege?

  4. Ahhh, it’s like my post on the last blog has been answered immediately. Sort of. Cheers AV.
    It’s great to read that club are being proactive and have the kudos to form links with clubs like Atletico and Juventus. That’s the sort of long-term planning that demonstrates the ambition that still burns for our small town in Yorkshire.
    The links are nothing if not utilised properly, that will be the real test, but you have to develop the contacts first. Well done.
    I agreed with Paulista Park’s critical accessment of Gibson’s post-Mowbray interview a couple of weeks ago, but I also still believe that if we don’t get where all want to be it won’t be from a lack of effort or ambition.

  5. If what you say AV is true,and I have no reason to doubt your insight, I think Mr Gibson is not only being brave but far sighted. We used to call anything outside of the UK the continental way but I think now it should be the European way, in the sense the big picture is now ruled from Europe.
    I have felt for a long time the British model is too dogmatic and closed shop. Within European circles Directors of Football and coaches obviously have a different mindset,and in fact understand its about success and they expect the sack if it doesn’t happen (no crying like a baby after it happens,they move on),
    I think it may be time for Boro to look abroad for a coach. Maybe the players have heard the same old things ,banter ,jokes,tactics and have tuned out,
    When I’ve been in the company of coaches with an accent other than mine I’ve had to listen more closely to understand what they are saying. I will also say these coaches are very thorough in what they do. Every player will know their role.
    Just a foot note to this: it can also fail – but for different reasons. Remember when Southampton got relegated from our division to the second a few years back? They actually played some of their best football technically that season under a foreign coach. He was the one who brought in the likes of Lallanna, Schneiderlin,and others at a young age ,but they kept losing close games (they had no money either),
    I think the next appointment is going to say a great deal and will tel its own story

  6. AV: My previous post was submitted before I saw your piece.
    There are two massive flaws in the proposed new system. If the new manager only has an input into recruitment, is one voice amongst many, and lacks any form of control, then what are essentially footballing decisions are under the control of non-footballing people, i.e. of people who are not qualified to make them.
    Secondly, should the players recruited under such a system fail to produce, who will carry the can? You can bet your life that it will not be those who are in control, but the poor old manager.
    So what the club’s executives are seeking is that old prerogative of the harlot: power without responsibility. I cannot imagine any manager worth his salt falling for that one.
    What is being smuggled in under the banner of progress, efficiency and modernity is the kind of old-fashioned authoritarian control that squeezes the life out of everything it touches.
    If this is what the club is now offering, then I suspect that the search will be long, the results disappointing , and the long term consequences disastrous.
    **AV writes: I don’t think recruitment will be dictated by non-football people. The recommendations for players will come from the likes of football development chiefs at Atletico or Juventus, or from very well informed contacts like Boksic. Then they will be scouted and possibly brought to train with Boro for a while before an assessment is made. The manager will have a key input. Probably the most important say too.
    What it does imply is that someone will be recruited specifically to run the operatioon. It is a full time job, jetting around Europe talking to coaches, swapping notes with Academy directors, glad-handing sporting directors. It mean the manager – or head coach – will be able to crack on with team matters and not have to jet off to watch a French game on Sunday when he could be concentrating on the next game. The whole deal though does revolve around getting the right people who trust each other in place.

  7. Must admit I thought MV missed an opportunity at Blackburn with a ‘fortune favours the brave’ selection overlooked in favour of a Mogga-style team, however understandable it was.
    Has Bob Bradley not got an outside mention? Likely to be available once Albert and his Black Lions finish Egypt off he could even bring his son to add to the midfield. After all this guy got the best out of Alves so he clearly has some clue.
    In light of your archive article on Heine Otto perhaps there could have been a role for him at the club? I remember standing on the South Terrace with an ‘I was there’ badge on watching him shine. Going by his subsequent roles he clearly is a football man through and through.
    AV I note your comments regarding Branca and Milan. Has there been some bridge-building done because I thought there were potentially some legal issues and/or bad feeling following Marco’s injury?
    **AV writes: Yes, I believe that has all been settled long ago. It was just business.

  8. Just wanted to follow up with my last comments,
    I remember before the Premiership came into exsistence for a number of years before, the talk of it was emphatically denied and in fact we where told it would never happen. This was coming from people at the top,
    have heard recently of this new Super European league being touted,. There have been even talks of LA Galaxy, New York Bulls, Portland and others being part of it, Is this folly?
    I don’t know but where would that leave a team like Boro in the future. The domestic league would stay intact as it is but these super global clubs would need feeder clubs.
    On another note if this was to happen ,there would be no relegation as such, so no way in. That ‘s the North American way. I know in the NHL and baseball your club can spend to the moon over the cap to sign players but if you do you get what’s called I think a royalty tax that’s distributed to the other less wealthy clubs

  9. What on earth are we doing ?
    Am I the only one who views the link up with Peter Kenyon and Jorge Mendes with horror? Has it got so bad that we have to put our faith in these characters ?
    Kenyon and Mendes have been at the forefront of third party ownership of players; football’s novel take on modern slavery. Through their joint venture, Quality Sports Investment, they have been buying “stakes” in desperate young players in the hope of moving them on and bagging a healthy profit. They were behind Falcao’s bizarre move to Monaco and the farcical transfer of eight Portuguese internationals to Besiktas which virtually bankrupt the Turkish club.
    The duo are particularly adept at exploiting teenage South American talent with the promise of glory in the top European Leagues. It only takes a few to make it big for the scam to pay off, even if most end up on the scrap heap.
    Not only is third party ownership akin to slavery but it creates huge conflicts of interests and the potential for corruption. The multiple ownership of assets also makes financial transparency impossible. That’s why it’s disapproved of by UEFA and FIFA and banned in this country. It’s also the reason why Kenyon and Mendes have both been investigated by the authorities for their involvement in such schemes. The fact that we are jumping into bed with them fills me with dread.
    The club will claim that the link is informal and just a case of exploiting the contacts of well connected individuals. My experience is that Kenyon and Mendes do not get involved in any venture unless there’s a quick buck in it for them. Handsome profit at low risk. Gibson will, no doubt, try to reassure us but after his disingenuous claims to have backed Mowbray I’m not sure I believe him anymore.
    I have no doubt that shrewd operators like Kenyon and Mendes will find a way around the third party ban and promise us the earth. Short lived excitement with little reward for us and when it all goes pear shaped guess who’ll be left holding the baby.
    Is the thought of steady progress in the Championship so abhorrent to us that we have to gamble on shady deals in a desperate bid for Premier League glory. Do we have to stoop so low as to snuggle up to Mendes, the ex DJ and nightclub owner turned super agent. He’s just the type of dubious character that Gibson would have crossed the road to avoid not so long ago.
    Until recently I thought I knew what our club stood for. Local pride, promoting young players and playing a decent brand of football. A beacon for the community, not always the best team but always striving for the best standards.
    I’m not sure now. We seem so obsessed with the Holy Grail of the Premier League that we’ll do anything to get back. Even if that means abandoning our principles and doing deals with the devil.
    In an ideal world the next manager would promote the values we hold dear and build on what we have. He would have experience of the Championship and encourage young talent as well as having an eye for a bargain from the lower leagues.
    The reality will be very different. Expect a shiny new foreign coach, long on coaching qualifications but short on loyalty. A cultural mismatch, completely ill suited to this league and our club.
    He will, however, have the one quality that really counts in Gibson’s brave new world. When Kenyon and Mendes say “jump” , he’ll say “how high?”

  10. Paulista –
    you’re painting a picture of Steve Gibson that I just don’t recognise. Is this the same man who regularly stood up to football agents who demanded too much?
    I cannot see Gibson becoming hostage to Kenyon and Mendes and then becoming involved in less than transparent deals in the hope Boro would secure the services of half-decent players.
    More likely he’s using their contacts in order to building up a series of useful partnerships with clubs across Europe.
    The new plan emerging seems to make sense and I also advocate some form of Director of football with coaching managers is the way forward.
    Also, what’s this nonsense that Gibson was disingenuous in his backing of Mowbray? at the time of his sacking Mogga was both the longest serving manager in the Championship with the League’s worst record for 2013 – he had less than a handful of wins this year, tell me any other chairman who would have backed him for that long?
    Anyway, now is not the time to take shots at the chairman for trying to find the route for a competitively financed debt-free club to finally start translating it’s resources into success on the pitch.
    **AV writes: If was just about getting into bed with particular agents it would be worrying but it seems far more structured than that. It seems to be more about getting into bed with particular clubs. And at important levels of their infrastructure. I can’t what benefit the is for Mendes in sending the U18s out to play Atleticos juniors for instance.

  11. Paulista Park:
    Precisely. A brilliant post. I have supported the Boro since 1946, but I won’t support that lot. With at least three layers of hierarchy above the manager, it seems like Newcastle is becoming the new model. It was obviously a source of conflict when Mowbray failed to be impressed by the selection of players sourced by the hierarchy,
    The new man will have little such autonomy. Administrators, scouts etc should be working under the manager, not directing him.

  12. Paulista & Len –
    I’m a big fan of both of you on here but I think you may be jumping to conclusions on this one.
    Kenyon and Mendes may not have the best reputations among purists like us but there is nothing beyond speculation to suggest that Steve Gibson is taking us down a murky path.
    Just as Kenyon and Mendes are associated with the darker arts, Gibson is rightly associated with the opposite so it is very much down to your own interpretation as to how you view this unlikely alliance at this point. Let’s not withdraw our support before we know who fits where and why.
    I also have little concern for the idea of a new managerial structure, at least not per se. As AV suggested in his reply to Len at 7.17pm on 7th, the issue is about the right people and the quality of their relationship rather than the theory itself.
    My only concern with the chairman is his lack of patience when it comes to planning and strategy. He generally displays patience in abundance with his managers but less so with the plans he gives them such as cost cutting under Southgate then throwing panic money at Mido and Alves. Or suggesting we need hardened, Championship experienced pro’s for Mowbray then offering him untested foreign players and getting the hump when they are rejected.
    There’s some mixed messages there and I would like to see us firm up a solid plan and stick with it. Changing strategy every season is not far off changing manager every season and usually adds up to the same thing.
    I’m boring myself with my own repetition but as each major turnaround comes about I think it becomes more and more necessary for Gibson to go on record and lay bare the plans he has for the football club, unify the fanbase, and galvanise club and community.
    Of course, he would be foolish to do so if he thinks he may change his mind again and not see those plans through.
    **AV writes: I think you are right. The club need to articulate exactly where we are and where we are going. That is the only way to stop all the bitching and finger-pointing over how we got here. And that can only come from the chairman.
    It is time to elaborate a clear manifesto. It is easier to get people to buy into a project they can understand and see unfolding no matter how slowly than it is to ask for a blind faith that is easily eroded by impatience in the absence of obvious progress.

  13. I agree with a lot of the concerns articulated by Paulista and Len.
    They are justifiable concerns over how it would work in terms of player recruitment.
    If we get a couple of players over from Spain, Italy and Croatia where does that leave our own prospects? Would the club (manager) be under pressure to give them game time?
    Overseas contacts are not doing it because they love Boro, they will want a return.
    That doesn’t mean there couldn’t be huge benefits for Boro in terms of working with overseas clubs, players together to improve all parties. Judicious loans etc.
    Very tricky, in some places it works at others it doesn’t. Mogga did a good job at West Brom but it was in a framework that preceded him and has continued. Loony Toons need no further comment.
    **AV writes: It is about tapping into a network of contacts and knowledge to get an edge in a very crowded market-place. To get a Michu or Lukaka a year ahead of the curve. There is no intention of ‘doing a Watford’ and importing an entire team. The decision making process will still be based at Hurworth, not Lisbon. Gibbo wouldn’t have it otherwise. You only need two good players on a the cheap to improve the team or to be sold on at a profit to help fund domestic team-building and make it worthwhile as FFP starts to bite.

  14. The days of a supremo ala Shankly, Revie, Clough etc are long gone. If we want a successful club in the 21st century, then we will have to move with the times.
    MFC were a casualty of failing to adapt to modern football, just as many more were, Coventry, Sheffield Wednesday, Leeds, Wolves, to name but a few. This is why a lot of established clubs get relegated and replaced by clubs from the Championship, who then go onto be a success and stay in the league and with a few exceptions the demoted clubs struggle to try and get back to former glory.
    The Chairman should be applauded for having a forward view even though he was seen to be at fault when we were relegated, (didn’t see it coming).
    Unfortunately, if you lay down with dogs, you get fleas. But , better fleas in the Premiership, than Crabs in the Championship/Football League.

  15. AV –
    It is still a tricky balance between ownership, recruitment, coaching and playing staff.
    Cardiff are turning in to basket case.
    The most amusing is at Citeh who have always boasted that they are a club for Mancunians unlike United (clearly ignoring the hordes from greater Manchester who support United). Now they have a team owned by someone from overseas, coached by someone from overseas with a team from overseas. Delicious irony.
    I think part of the concern fans will have is that as Andy R points out, is it another fad? Or will we turn out like Arsenal with an academy of overseas players, even worse as a feeder club for several overseas giants.
    You cannot put the genie back in the bottle.
    The next structure and appointment are the most important since, err, the last one.
    **AV writes: What happens next could be the most important paradigm shift since Gibbo first brought Bryan Robson into a middling second tier club and put a huge pile of cash on the table to spark the Riverside Revolution.
    He has to get it right or we could be treading water for a decade. Or worse.

  16. Good post Werdermouth.
    Steve Gibson has put his hand in his pockets for this club, longer and deeper than anyone. He can says what he wants but by no means was he being disingenuous re Mogga.
    Rav – a joke and I hope that’s the last we hear of him.
    But there seems an acceptance that his counterpart in effort, decency and money is now one of the good guys, or establishment at least. Why on earth would we want anything to do with Alen Boksic ever again? In any capacity.

  17. Paulista Park –
    I have nearly always agreed in principal with your eloquent posts. And that goes for Len too.
    However as Richard Evans says, where would we be without Mr. Gibson. Yes he has made quite a number of mistakes over time, and I have criticised him for it. But every time he got it wrong, he has stumped up more money. With FFP, lots of clubs including Boro are going to have problems with making ends meet and still try and achieve their dreams.
    Let’s wait and see before we slag him off.
    And one question PP. I did not want to see TM sacked and would have given him a little longer. You or Len have not said when you may have reviewed the situation. Would relegation have been acceptable?

  18. Paulista Park, I have nearly always agreed in principal with your eloquent posts. And that goes for Len too.
    However as Richard Evans says, where would we be without Mr. Gibson. Yes he has made quite a number of mistakes over time, and I have critised him for it. But every time he got it wrong, he has stumped up more money. With FFP, lots of clubs including Boro are going to have problems with making ends meet and still try and achieve their dreams.
    Let’s wait and see before we slag him off.
    And one question PP. I did not want to see TM sacked and would have given him a little longer. You or Len have not said when you may have reviewed the situation. Would relegation have been acceptable?

  19. “Do you think it would be worth while giving Herr Magath a ring, and telling him we’ve changed our minds, he can have the job?
    **AV writes: Isn’t he Felix von Warnock? What’s Uwe doing these days? Or Ziege?”
    In Germany they have a system of what they call Manager and Trainer.
    The manager buys the players, negotiates the contracts and also hires (and sacks) the trainer. The trainer is responsible for team selection, tactics, coaching etc.
    Everybody knows Jürgen Klopp. But he is only the trainer. Michael Zorc is the Manager. He’s been the manager since he retired as a player in 1998. Klopp’s been there about five years. It’s often (but not always) an ex player that does this manager job. Uli Hoeness was manager at Bayern for decades and masterminded their rise to being European giants. Everybody remembers the trainers like Magath, Heynkes, Lattek etc. But they all came and went. It was Uli Hoeness that hired and fired them.
    Felix Magath didn’t like this system. He wanted to be manager and trainer in union, similar to the English system. That, I suspect, is why he considered joining us to take over that role. He eventually signed on at Wolfsburg in exactly this role, with great success. He tried to repeat this at Schalke but it didn’t go down well with the Germans, one man having so much power. Although he was relatively successful Schalke and Magath parted company. Both Schalke (Heldt and Keller) and Wolfsburg (Allofs and Hacking) have returned to the German system of manager and trainer.
    Christian Ziege is now trainer of the german U18 national team. He’s tried his luck in different jobs in the Bundesliga, sometimes as manager and sometimes as trainer, without much success.
    **AV writes: Interesting contribution.
    I do think that the absolute power of ‘manager’ in English football brings problems: it invites short term signings and perspective, and gives one man the power/responsibility of investing money in players on a whim,
    What are are the areas of conflict? Who decides long term strategy? Who decideson signings? What are the limits of the head coaches’ power?

  20. The third audition looms for Veno.
    I must admit it is hard to guess what he actually thinks about his position though his utterances do sound remarkably honest.
    What will we get tomorrow? Sounds like we have a few niggles though is that a red herring? Will Veno resort to a similar line up to that which featured against Donny or will we have a match up with the Hornets?
    I would certainly like us to be positive but does that mean Friend at left back with Leadbitter reverting to one of the two holding players. If we have a niggle or two it doesn’t take a great stretch of the imagination to think of Woodie. So Gibson could feature in one role or another.
    I think we all hope that we start with Kamara up front rather than wide. Hopefully have both Carayol and Adomah starting. If we are going to play three midfielders I would rather Butterfield in the forward roles than Leadbitter.
    But that would mean no Marvin.
    Tricky but lets hope Veno does his cause no harm at all and the players put on a performance. 2-1 would do nicely.

  21. Pedro –
    I believe we are now more likely to be relegated than we were under Mowbray.
    The bookmakers, whose living depends on getting these things right, share that view. We are generally shorter odds across the board to go down than we were.
    Changing the manager is no guarantee of success but it does guarantee disruption. The “baby out with the bath water” potential is increased several fold if the change results in installing a foreign manager/coach who has no experience at all of the championship. Think Stollebaken after McCarthy at Wolves for example.
    I agree with Andy R and AV that the club’s failiure to communicate a strategy is a major
    issue but I don’t believe the problem is a lack of articulation. I don’t believe we actually have a coherent strategy.
    At the meeting with Gibson last season all the talk was of solid, domestic core players, in the Townsend and Pearson mould. How they would make us stronger and harder to beat. We are now told that Mowbray wanted to bring in such players but was offered “exciting ” foreign prospects instead.
    There was no mention in that meeting of Kenyon or Mendes. There was talk of a new scouting network and contacts with ex players. Weren’t we supposed to be close to signing a Croatian? Did that all go flat so we turned to the agents for guidance. It smacks of a “scatter gun”; a lack of joined up thinking.
    It’s possible that Kenyon has been part of our long term strategic thinking all along. Isn’t it more likely that the whole thing was cooked up during an impromptu meeting in the 19th hole of a Jersey golf club.
    I appreciate all Gibson has done but it’s as much my club as his. He is the custodian of our club for the benefit of the town. The club existed before him and will continue after he’s gone.I don’t apologise for criticising him when he’s in the wrong.
    Gibson’s made a succession of awful decisions in recent years. Let’s hope the next one he makes bucks the trend. I fear it could be the worst of the lot.

  22. Paulista park –
    I understand your thoughts about Steve Gibson, I don’t think he was wrong about Mogga.
    Looking at his record in 2013 you cannot argue that 24 points out of 99 did not inspire confidence. Throw in his preference for matching up rather than trying to impose our play and it starts to build evidence in support of Gibsons actions.
    We are no nearer relegation than before he left. His last two games were a 4-1 win against relegation fodder followed by a capitulation against an even worse side only rescued when he wnet for it. Three nil down at half time with half the away end baying for his blood is not a commendation.
    It was his team, the comments about his reign at Celtic seemed to ring true.
    His number two took over and beat a better team than Yeovil in Donnie and lost narrowly to a superstrike at Blackburn who are far better than Barnsley.
    The longer we go without the position of manager being filled permanently would be a problem. I dont think we would go down if stayed, I dont think we will go down now he has gone.

  23. “What are are the areas of conflict? Who decides long term strategy? Who decides on signings? What are the limits of the head coaches’ power?”
    It can be a problem in England. Strachan’s reign with us is a perfect example. He brought in loads of players and it didn’t work. The next manager comes in and has to start from scratch. In fact it took Mowbray three years just to get back up to scratch! He finally gets there and he gets sacked.
    The German method brings a bit more continuity. Obviously the trainer does have some input into who is signed on, and if players aren’t playing and are unhappy they move on. That’s the trainer’s decision not the manager’s. But it is a fact that the club buys the players, not the trainer. When the trainer moves on the players are still there. Basically the manager is the trainer’s boss.

  24. GHW –
    The days of a supremo ala Shankly, Revie, Clough etc are long gone.
    Were they ever really here? Notoriously, Clough relied heavily on the scouting nouse of Peter Taylor.
    Shankly’s scouting chief Geoff Twentymen, according to his biographer Stephen Kelly, was “perhaps Shankly’s finest signing ever”. Moreover he had Fagan and Paisley at his side.
    Clubs do need a face and some managers easily generate a cult of personality. But look at the success of those surrounding Mourinho, they must have had their domains in order to develop as they did.
    A more diffuse power system that gives the coach more time to concentrate on coaching and frees up others to tackle the difficult task on recruitment etc. is the only way forward now with the increasing demands of managing a football club these days.
    This can only benefit young home grown players who would, presumably, spend more time with the manager. And a continuity of philosophy would make progress from the youth set up to the first team a more transparent journey – it would be clear to all what type of player they would have to become to succeed in the new model and those that had the potential would get the right help to get there.
    I would like to see us go for someone like Karanka who would be used to such a model. Can’t see what he will gain by taking the Palace job.. better to try and slowly help shape the foundations somewhere than to make his bones fire fighting. Equally Palace need quick answers.

  25. Steveh –
    I must admit I thought Robson should have brought in a top coach and taken over the manager role as you discussed.
    In some ways Ferguson operated like that, he kept revitalising the team by a regular turnover of coaches. He was never obsessed by having a fixed coaching team.
    One of the problems we have is that the management teams seem to be an item. One out, all out. It is possibly why you get swings in style of play.
    Many will disagree but in our last three appointments we have picked managers who wanted to play football. For all the faults of Southgate and Strachen they were not long ball merchants. Southgate was a cultured defender, Strachan was a not a launch it footballer.

  26. My post after the Blackburn game has vanished but basically I said that I didn’t agree with Kamara being stuck out wide or the slightly Mowbrayesque approach but that our back four against Donny were literally flat and although Big Ben has done well the return of Friend made the back line less mono paced.
    Leaving out Carayol was an error because whether by coincidence or not Adomah has his best displays when Carayol is playing, no doubt because it doubles the pressure on the opponents and also suppresses their attacking intent. Friend of course can also provide attacking intent on that flank but at 0-0 we would have grumbled but taken a point as it turned out it wasn’t to be.
    Moving onto the managerial debate I am firmly in steveh’s camp. Possibly because I have just spent this week in Germany and the cultural differences are more easily appreciated (and relevant) when you experience something first hand but the long term, structured continuity aspect to it is definitely the way forward. This is possibly why it is taking longer to appoint an individual/s.
    SG has made many mistakes over the last few years and I’m sure he is his own worst critic. His dismissal of Mogga was too late in my opinion and should have been done in the Summer but our 2013 record stands testimony to the undisputable fact that out on the Riverside pitch where the points are collected and paying fans are attracted, things fell way short of acceptable even for a local Hero (who still is).
    The very fact that there is clearly nobody lined up like the Southgate/Strachan era shows that Gibbo did not reach the decision easily despite the worst sequence of results in a 100 years.
    I was sat for a few hours with a Celtic fan on Thursday night who I met up with in Dusseldorf after he had travelled to Amsterdam to watch the Celtic game midweek and he said to me, “before you say anything, Mogga is a great bloke with great intentions but his style of football became frustrating and tedium personified and you leaked goals for fun plus set pieces were a disaster and his after match persona was uninspiring, am I right”?
    He went on to say that the Celtic fans were as divided as we still are, everyone loved him but he simply lost the crowd. When Lennon came in he lifted spirits with his passion and lively temperament and it felt like the shackles had been taken off.
    Just before the conversation moved on to work issues he said “inspiration” thats what Boro need now, Mogga would have assembled a half decent squad (he confidently predicted) of talented players, “they need someone to lead and inspire, sort that and they will fly”. I hope he is right!
    Onto today and the Hornets: they will be buzzing angrily after last weeks game with Leicester so expect a response. Lets hope we go for them and play our game and not sit back allowing their pretty Italiano lite style run rings around us as would definitely have happened under Mogga.
    Kamara up front please with Carayol and Adomah on the flanks. I might have been tempted to go for Butterfield instead of Marvin but Watfords style is to play football rather than outmuscle so this could be a game where Marvin will be allowed to play and I’d stick with him.
    Defensively Friend at LB but I prefer Richardson to Rhys at RB but having lost the armband and having World Cup aspirations in that position I think Veno has told him thats where you belong so Rhys will start there with one eye on Brazil. Let’s hope Veno’s psychological gamble with him pays off.
    Of course should we win a 5-3 thriller then the Bookies odds will put Veno back in pole position and the speculation will continue into the break and allows SG more times to put plans in place. A defeat may hasten a quicker than preferred managerial/trainer appointment so lets hope for all our sakes that we witness an entertaining game with Boro shading it and whomever Gibbo eventually appoints we are all inspired collectively.

  27. “I must admit I thought Robson should have brought in a top coach and taken over the manager role as you discussed.”
    Yeah, I thought that at the time as well. Robson’s biggest asset was that he was able to attract big names to the club due to his reputation and high profile. But he was found lacking tactically. He has had practically no success since he left us, but he would be the ideal German type manager. This all became obvious when Venables came in and reorganised things on the pitch with instant success.

  28. Just to reiterate that I thought steveh made some excellent points regarding how German clubs are structured between manager and trainer in order to best accomplish both long-term strategy and recruitment as well as business of short-term results on the pitch – Steve Gibson would do well to contemplate this arrangement at Boro.
    I think the important thing to remember is that there is no magic button to suddenly get the club back to running as a well oiled machine. Gibson will need to weigh up the pros and cons of different approaches and hopefully find the right people who can deliver the club’s objectives successfully.
    It’s not easy as we have discovered over the last five years but when you run a club you have to make the right calls at the right time, often regardless of sentiment. You also need to be a little pragmatic and if that doesn’t always fit in with what you’ve previously said then so be it – it’s better than sticking to a dogma that appears to be failing.
    **AV writes:I agree, especially about the lack of a “magic button..”

  29. My views are usually closely aligned with those of len and Paulista, so I’ve read their posts on this thread with particular interest.
    Kenyon & Mendes certainly aren’t the sort of people I’d want to be too closely aligned with Boro. I have assumed that they are currently being used as advisors/consultants by Steve Gibson, who I suspect is taking a pragmatic approach to the job of building a new footballing structure.
    On the subject of what appears to be a new management structure, I like the idea of a manager working with a director of recruitment. It strikes me that is a sensible model in modern football which places so many demands on a manager/coach.
    As long as the new manager knows what is proposed and buys into it I cant see a problem. Given that it is very much a continental model, that I would think suggests the new manager is more likely to be European. I don’t mind where he comes from as long as he is good.
    What intrigues me more is who the new director of recruitment will be.
    The new proposed structure (which we’re all guessing at, back to that shortly), also looks sensible to me. One of the problems with modern professional football is the break in continuity a change of manager brings. If the owner has a clear vision of the type of football he wants to see his team play and a strategy for recruitment and developing academy players along with a management team to support all of that, then that should reduce the disruption caused by managerial changes. Which like it or not happen regularly.
    Finally I agree with AV and others, we need a clear statement of intent from Steve Gibson as to his plan and vision for how the club is structured and managed going forward. We currently have a void, voids get filled with rumour and ill-informed opinion, which in turn lead to division and disharmony.
    So, Steve if AV is correct and you do read this blog then please give us the statement we all would like to hear, your vision for the future of the club. It’s needed in order for us fans to fully buy in to it .

  30. AV wrote “Of course, 40 of those applications will have been from bedroom bosses who have taken Boro to the Champions League final on Football Manager. But haven’t we all? ”
    Err….(cough) No.
    I was sacked before Christmas and now currently manage Stockport in the Conference North. Should I submit my CV?
    **AV writes: How are you getting on?

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